Taoiseach insists MetroLink ‘has not been postponed for another decade’

Changes to transport plan described as ‘an abdication’ of climate action commitments

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy said the new strategy sees a doubling of the cost and the postponement of large scale projects in the greater Dublin Area. Photograph: Alan Betson

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy said the new strategy sees a doubling of the cost and the postponement of large scale projects in the greater Dublin Area. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Taoiseach Micheal Martin has insisted that MetroLink “has not been postponed for another decade”.

He said in the Dail that the Metrolink, along with BusConnects and light rail in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford and the Dart+ in Dublin are three key priority areas with €165 billion investment through the national development plan.

Mr Martin was responding to Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald who said the Taoiseach had “big talk for the international audience” at the Cop26 summit “but back at home key public transport schemes get kicked down the road”.

She said Dubliners who had waited almost 20 years would now have to wait another decade for Metrolink.

Insisting that “these projects are coming before the Government very quickly” the Taoiseach said he did not know where Ms McDonald “got the notion that MetroLink is postponed for ten years” and she should not have said that.

He said the projects would require “the co-operation of everybody in this House, and on the local authorities, to ensure we get these projects through.”

Under the updated National Transport Authority (NTA) strategy for the capital and the greater Dublin area, the MetroLink and Navan rail lines will not be delivered until after 2031, nor will Luas lines to Finglas, Lucan, Poolbeg and Bray.

The Dart underground project has been shelved for at least 20 years.

The cost of implementing the Greater Dublin Area Transport Strategy for the next two decades has more than doubled from €10.3 billion to €25 billion.

The postponement of major rail projects for Dublin were widely criticised by Opposition politicians many of whom claims Ireland’s carbon emissions reductions targets will be missed as a result.

Labour’s spokesman on Transport Duncan Smith said the postponement of MetroLink - due to run from Swords to Charlemont street via Dublin Airport - is “simply unacceptable”.

The Dublin Fingal TD called on Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan to outline in detail in the Dáil why this decision was made.

He said: “As recently as last week’s transport committee, the NTA confirmed to me that the business plan for MetroLink makes economic sense.

“Therefore the news this morning smack of a political decision to delay this desperately needed piece of infrastructure.”

He claimed the Government has been “dragging its heels on MetroLink from the get go” highlighting how there was no completion date in the recent National Development Plan.

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy said the new strategy sees a doubling of the cost and the postponement of large scale projects in the greater Dublin Area.

She said: “This is more than a disappointment” and claimed “it is an abdication of a responsibility to deliver” on climate action targets.

Ms Murphy said more than €200 million has already been spent on the Metro and Dart Underground projects “without delivering anything”.

She also said that some projects would have quite minor costs - citing the extension of Dart services to towns in Kildare.

Ms Murphy criticised plans for a Dart depot in Kilcock where she said nearby residents will be able to see the trains but not get on them because the service will not be available from the nearby station.

Sinn Féin’s Transport spokesman Darren O’Rourke said the revised transport strategy is “terrible news for many communities”. He claimed the Government seems “intent on abandoning rail”.

Mr O’Rourke added: “I really struggle to see how they will deliver the modal shift required to meet transport emissions reduction targets based on active travel and bus alone.”

People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy claimed the only conclusion to be drawn from delays in the train projects is that “the Government has fallen at the first hurdle in terms of reaching the targets set out in the Climate Action Plan”, which sets out emissions cuts in the transport sector of between 42 per cent and 50 per cent.

He said it confirms that the Climate Action Plan is “more blah, blah, blah” a phrase used by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg in relation to climate talks among world leaders.